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by Daniel J. Soeder | 2007

Maryland is wonderful, but we needn’t restrict our outings to our own backyard.

Just because the Maryland chapter and groups run a local outings program, it doesn’t mean we have to restrict ourselves to the immediate areas of these groups. Many chapters with large programs—such as Angeles, Loma Prieta, and San Francisco Bay—run outings all over the country.

Angeles even has a thriving international outings program, with frequent trips to Mexico, Central America, and other localities. Our East Coast neighbors in New Jersey run international outings occasionally to places like Europe. The point is that we can go almost anywhere we want.

A couple of places where I’ve run trips that are out of our immediate area are the Delaware Water Gap in New Jersey and White Mountains of New Hampshire. If there is a special place that interests you, please let me know.

I’m planning to lead an outing next spring to Las Vegas. I lived out there in the 1990s and discovered dozens of wonderful hiking trails within a few minutes’ drive of the city. I was always slightly saddened that most people who visit Vegas never get any farther than the big hotels on the Strip, missing the beautiful mountains, desert, and canyons just a short distance from town.

Closer to home, autumn is the best time to be in the Mid-Atlantic. With cooler weather, fewer insects, and colorful trees, this part of the country is simply beautiful. I’m originally from the Cleveland, Ohio, area, and my first experience with the Mid-Atlantic outdoors came back in 1974, on a geology field trip in college. We stayed in Hagerstown the first night, and started the trip at Harpers Ferry, where the Potomac cuts through the Blue Ridge. We spent two more days traveling up into the panhandle of West Virginia, stopping to view incredible rock exposures, sedimentary layers and structures in the folded mountains. We topped out on the flat-lying rocks of the Appalachian Plateau near Morgantown. I don’t remember all the places we visited, but I do recall several fall days with spectacular scenery, including crimson and golden leaves against a stunning blue sky. On that trip, I fell in love with both the outdoors and the science of geology.

My career as an Earth scientist has taken me many places, but autumn in the Appalachians remains very special to me. It’s one thing I really missed about the East when I lived in Nevada, because there isn’t much of a fall season there. It just goes rather suddenly from being really hot to really cold. Most of the trees are conifers, so there isn’t much of a show in any case. Please look over the wide variety of trips offered below. Get out there and enjoy another gorgeous autumn in the Mid-Atlantic! See you outside.  


Dan Soeder is the Maryland Chapter outings chair.

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